World

Moldova’s Recount Highlights Troubled Election Process

by Aaron Rice

Just 22% of Moldovans are confident in the honesty of their elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Violent protests, accusations of fraud, and a forced recount following Moldova's election in early April were to little avail for demonstrators. The April 22 recount confirmed the Communist Party's win announced on election day, April 5. Moldovans' resistance to the initial outcome comes as little surprise, as Gallup has consistently found a majority of Moldovans lacking confidence in the honesty of their elections -- including 59% in the most recent survey.

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While the recount results confirmed the validity of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's assessment that the elections in Moldova met many international standards, Gallup found that only 22% of Moldovans report having confidence in the honesty of elections. This is the fourth lowest percentage of residents surveyed in several countries in the Former Soviet Union (FSU).

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The protests in Moldova are the second set of violent demonstrations to occur in a country in the FSU in April. Earlier that month, Georgians' rallied against the newly re-elected Mikhail Saakashvili because of his failure to deliver on many of the promises that brought him to power during the Rose Revolution in 2003 and his poor relationship with Russia. Recently, Gallup data revealed that 34% of Georgians report having confidence in the honesty of elections -- more than the number of Moldovans who said the same.

One common thread between the Georgian and Moldovan political climates is the freedom of the press, or lack thereof. Previously, Gallup reported that 42% of Georgian residents report having confidence in the quality and integrity of the media. Likewise, when surveyed, a minority of Moldovans (36%) expressed confidence in the quality and integrity of the media.

Moldova election protests
Anti-communist demonstrators set a bonfire on the steps of parliament, Tuesday April 7, 2009, in Chisinau, Moldova, during protests against the declared results of Sunday's parliamentary elections. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

Furthermore, the Moldovan and Georgian governments exert strict controls over the media. About three weeks ago, the Moldovan government arrested several journalists from Romania, a country that President Vladimir Voronin believes to be partially responsible for the recent instability. The Reporters Without Borders organization recently released a statement about Moldovan authorities that said "Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed that that the authorities have been arresting journalists and even using violence against them." In fact, the Moldovan government blocked certain Web sites and television channels to prevent reports on the protests. In comparison with other populations surveyed in the region, Moldovans' confidence in their media trends toward the lower half of the spectrum.

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In general, residents in FSU countries where Gallup surveyed do not express confidence in the honesty of elections and the quality and integrity of the media.

Survey Methodology

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults in Moldova, aged 15 and older, conducted April 2006, June 2007, and October 2008. For results based on total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±3.3 percentage points for 2008, ±3.2 percentage points for 2007, and ±3.4 percentage points for 2006.

Results for countries in the Former Soviet Union are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults in each country except Russia with 2,019; Ukraine 1,074; and Georgia with 1,080. Interviews occurred between the period of May 2008 and December 2008. For results based on total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error ranged between ±2.5 and ±3.7.

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